Managing zoom fatigue

Zoom has been and continues to be a useful for many people with regards to work, learning and social connection.  However, with increased time spent on remote learning and remote work, more students are likely to experience tiredness, worry and burnout from excessive zoom use, a syndrome called zoom fatigue (1)

This post discusses strategies to minimize or reduce zoom fatigue.

What is zoom fatigue?

One definition of zoom fatigue might be , which refers to increased tiredness as a result of virtual meetings.

What are some ways to prevent or reduce zoom fatigue?

According to Professor Jeremy Bailenson, founding director of the Stanford Virtual Human Interaction Lab (VHIL) (2,3):

  1. Consider taking zoom out of full screen mode, as excessive amounts of close-up eye contact is highly intense (2,3). 
  2. Using external keyboard allows for an increase in the personal space bubble between oneself and the grid (2,3).
  3. Hide self view, as seeing yourself during video chats constantly in real-time can be fatiguing.
  4. Video chats dramatically reduce our usual mobility. an external camera farther away from the screen will allow you to pace and doodle in virtual meetings just like we do in real ones. And of course, turning one’s video off periodically during meetings is a good ground rule to set for groups, just to give oneself a brief nonverbal rest (2,3).
  5. Since the cognitive load is much higher in video chats, consider taking a brief break from having to be nonverbally active, but also turning your body away from the screen (2,3).

Additional strategies noted in the Harvard Business Review (4):

  • Avoid multitasking.  Consider  closing any tabs or programs that might distract you, put your phone away, and stay present (3).
  • Take mini breaks during longer calls by minimizing the video, moving it to behind your open applications, or just looking away from your computer now and then (4).
  • When possible, instead of a video conference, consider if an alternate method is appropriate (phone call, Slack or email, etc) (3).

Other strategies:

  • If possible schedule non video call activities between zoom calls to give yourself a break from the screen while remaining productive.
  • If cleared by your physician, consider brief bouts of stretching or exercise, even if its just a few minutes between zoom calls.
  • Some students may benefit from reducing screen brightness to decrease eye strain.
  • To balance the period of increased screen time, consider doing leisure activities that do not involve screens, such as going on a walk, working outside, playing a sport, etc.

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To learn more about zoom fatigue, see references below.

By R. Ryan S Patel DO, FAPA OSU-CCS Psychiatrist

Disclaimer: This article is intended to be informative only. It is advised that you check with your own physician/mental health provider before implementing any changes. With this article, the author is not rendering medical advice, nor diagnosing, prescribing, or treating any condition, or injury; and therefore claims no responsibility to any person or entity for any liability, loss, or injury caused directly or indirectly as a result of the use, application, or interpretation of the material presented.

References:

  1. Wolf CR. Virtual platforms are helpful tools but can add to our stress. Psychology Today. May 14, 2020. Accessed October 19, 2020. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-desk-the-mental-health-lawyer/202005/virtual-platforms-are-helpful-tools-can-add-our-stress
  2. https://news.stanford.edu/2021/02/23/four-causes-zoom-fatigue-solutions/  Accessed 4/14/21.
  3. Bailenson, J. N. (2021). Nonverbal Overload: A Theoretical Argument for the Causes of Zoom Fatigue. Technology, Mind, and Behavior2(1). https://doi.org/10.1037/tmb0000030
  4. https://hbr.org/2020/04/how-to-combat-zoom-fatigue.  Accessed 4/14/21.
  5. A Neuropsychological Exploration of Zoom Fatigue (psychiatrictimes.com)

 

Smartphone use before bedtime might impact sleep, and daytime tiredness

Smartphone or cellphones are a useful tool and when used properly can have many benefits.
Many students frequently use cell-phones and often very close to bedtime. Students may not know that cellphone use might impact their ability to sleep at night and this might impact their daytime energy levels.
This study explored the relationship between cellphone use at bedtime and sleep.

Who was studied?
532 students aged 18–39 were recruited from lectures or via e-mail (1).
Mean time of media use per night was 46.6 minutes.

What were the study results?
Mobile phone usage for playing/surfing/texting was positively associated with insomnia.
Computer usage for playing/surfing/reading was positively associated with insomnia.

What do the results mean?
Computer or cellphone use in bed before bedtime may worsen your sleep.

How does screen time impact sleep?
There are various potential causes:
Media use might make it take longer to fall asleep (2).
Media use might mean less time spent sleeping, thus reducing sleep (3).
Bright light emitted by electronic devices might impact sleep quality (4).

Light exposure might be temporarily activating you (5-6).

Are you sleeping poorly? Are you tired during the day? Is screen time before bed impacting your sleep? Will cutting down on screen time improve your sleep? How do you know?

By R. Ryan S Patel DO, FAPA, OSU-CCS Psychiatrist
Disclaimer: This article is intended to be informative only. It is advised that you check with your own physician/mental health provider before implementing any changes. With this article, the author is not rendering medical advice, nor diagnosing, prescribing, or treating any condition, or injury; and therefore claims no responsibility to any person or entity for any liability, loss, or injury caused directly or indirectly as a result of the use, application, or interpretation of the material presented.

References
1. Fossum IN, et al. The Association Between Use of Electronic Media in Bed Before Going to Sleep and Insomnia Symptoms, Daytime Sleepiness, Morningness, and Chronotype. Behavioral Sleep Medicine. Volume 12, Issue 5, 2014, pages 343- 357. Published online: 14 Jul 2014. DOI: 10.1080/15402002.2013.819468.

2. Higuchi, S., Motohashi, Y., Liu, Y., & Maeda, A. (2005). Effects of playing a computer game using a bright display on presleep physiological variables, sleep latency, slow wave sleep and REM sleep. Journal of Sleep Research, 14, 267–273.
3. Van den Bulck, J. (2004). Television viewing, computer game playing, and Internet use and self-reported time to bed and time out of bed in secondary-school children. Sleep, 27, 101–104.
4. Cain, N., & Gradisar, M. (2010). Electronic media use and sleep in school-aged children and adolescents: A review. Sleep Medicine, 11, 735–742.
5. Cajochen, C., et al. (2011). Evening exposure to a light-emitting diodes (LED)-backlit computer screen affects circadian physiology and cognitive performance. Journal of Applied Physiology, 110, 1432–1438.
6. Campbell, S. S., et al. (1995). Light treatment for sleep disorders: Consensus report. III. Alerting and activating effects. Journal of Biological Rhythms, 10, 129–132.

You may not need 8 hours per night of sleep for optimal academic performance

Man reaching for alarm clock

In a large study(1) published in 2013, researchers examined self-reported sleeping habits of about 160,000 users of Lumnosity® who took spatial-memory and matching tests and about 127,000 users who took an arithmetic test. Optimal cognitive performance occurred at 7 hours per night of sleep, with worse performance among those with more or less sleep.

While you may not need exactly 8 hours of sleep per night and guidelines for optimal sleep are likely to be updated in the future(2).  It is however, important to keep in mind that not everyone needs the same amount of sleep, and too little sleep, just as too much sleep can impact your brain and academic performance.

As the new semester approaches, have you considered how sleep is impacting your academic performance, and by how much?  What will you do differently?

  1. Sternberg, et al. Front Hum Neurosci. 2013; 7: 292.  Published online Jun 20, 2013. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2013.00292.  The largest human cognitive performance dataset reveals insights into the effects of lifestyle factors and aging.
  2. http://m.us.wsj.com/articles/sleep-experts-close-in-on-the-optimal-nights-sleep-1405984970?mobile=y 

Disclaimer: This article is intended to be informative only. It is advised that you check with your own physician/mental health provider before implementing any changes.  With this article, the author is not rendering medical advice, nor diagnosing, prescribing, or treating any condition, or injury; and therefore claims no responsibility to any person or entity for any liability, loss, or injury caused directly or indirectly as a result of the use, application, or interpretation of the material presented.